- Articles Index
- Monthly Features
- General History Articles
- Ancient Near East
- Classical Europe and Mediterranean
- East Asia
- Steppes & Central Asia
- South and SE Asia
- Medieval Europe
- Medieval Iran & Islamic Middle East
- African History (-1750)
- Pre-Columbian Americas
- Early Modern Era
- 19'th Century (1789-1914)
- 20'th Century
- 21'st Century
- Total Quiz Archive
- Access Account
By Rider, 23 August 2007; Revised
Category: Medieval Europe: Military History
In the Norse legends, Tyrfing was a powerful sword made by the dwarves and cursed by the same. It’s fate was very interesting and bound to many people.
The King of Gardarike, Svafrlami was the grandson of Odin. One day he had gone to a hunting trip. He saw two dwarves, Durin and Dvalin, standing by a stone and he lay a spell upon them. He wished to kill them but the dwarves asked for their lives promising a sword that would not rust or break, cut iron and stone and would be accompanied by Nike (if we express ourselves in a Roman way) in duel and battle.
The dwarves then gave him the sword a few days later but Dvalin cursed it saying that every time it was drawn, a man had to die and three great evils would the sword do. Svarflami tried to kill the dwarf but he fled. Then Svarflami named the sword Tyrfing and started wielding it.
A berserker, Arngrim from Bolm ravaged the lands of Svafrlami and Svarflami met him in battle. Then Tyrfing failed and got stuck in the ground after slicing through Arngrim’s shield – Arngrim removed an arm of Svafrlami and took Tyrfing and killed the King of Gardarike. Arngrim wedded Eyfura, daughter of Svafrlami and they had twelve sons.
These sons were fierce berserkers and one of them, Hjorvard, vowed to wed Ingeborg, daughter of Yngve of the Swedes. When they presented the wish to King Yngve, he became troubled. A man from the court, Hjalmar also then asked to wed Ingeborg and Yngve decided to have his daughter decide. Yngve chose Hjalmar. Hearing this, Hjorvard called Hjalmar to a duel on the island of Samso.
Angantyr, eldest son of Arngrim and Eyfura, wielded Tyrfing when they went to the island of Samso and there they went into berserkgangr and they ravaged the ships of Hjalmar. Hjalmar himself and his friend, Od, had however already left the ships.
In the middle of the island, Od and Hjalmar met the twelve brothers. There they decided to duel. Hjalmar went against Angantyr and Od against eleven others (one by one). Od won the borthers but was tired and wounded. Angantyr and Hjalmar killed each other. Angantyr was buried along with Tyrfing.
Hervor was the daughter of Angantyr and Svava, daughter of Jarl Bjartmar. She was born after Angantyr died. She enjoyed all arts of war and was skilled in fighting. When Bjartmar told Hervor of her parents she went to the island of Samso and called out to the dead to return Tyrfing to her. Angantyr and the others told her that it would be the doom of her kind but she still wanted it and got it.
Hofund, son of Gudmund of Glaesivellir, wedded Hervor and they loved each other. They had two sons – Angantyr and Heidrek. Heidrek liked to do evil while Angantyr was peaceful and calm. One day, Hofund organised a party but he didn’t invite Heidrek. Heidrek still came and he was allowed to stay. Heidrek managed to make the persons on the party kill each other and Hofund outlawed him for that. Hervor however told Hofund to let the boy go on his way and use advice. Hofund told him that: Never help a man who betrayed his master; Never help a man who murdered his companion; Don’t let you wife visit the relatives often; Don’t reveal your thoughts to your lovers; Don’t ride the finest horse when you are in a hurry; Don’t adopt a son of a braver man than yourself; Don’t break a vow of peace you’ve given; Don’t keep many slaves in your company. Heidrek then left but Hervor also gave him Tyrfing. However, Heidrek drew the sword and due to the curse he killed Angantyr. That was the first ill deed of Tyrfing.
Heidrek met on his way two men: one who had killed his companion and one who had betrayed his master. He freed both and let them go. Heidrek served Harald of Reidgotaland and helped him a great deal. For this, Heidrek gained his daughter Helga and they had a son, Angantyr. Harald also had a son – Halvdan.
Reidgotaland faced a famine and the priests told that the more noble son must be sacrificed. It was decided (by Hofund) that Angantyr was the more noble one but that for that, every second man in Reidgotaland mmust vow loyalty to Heidrek. On the ting, Heidrek drew his sword and killed Halvdan and Harald.
Heidrek had to go to a trip around his country but he rode fast, ahead of the nobles and only the slaves managed to keep up. Then, when the night fell, the slaves killed Heidrek and fled. This was the third deed of Tyrfing.